By Max Lane
Several activists from the Students in Solidarity with Democracy in Indonesia (SMID) were released from jail in Jakarta on January 15. They had been held in prison since January 10, when 1000 workers and 100 students clashed with the military in the industrial area of Tangerang on the western edge of Jakarta.
The rallies were protesting against the disastrous safety record at the Ganda Guna Indonesia factory, where more than 30 workers are recorded as having lost fingers or other parts of their bodies. The workers also demanded food and transport allowance increases of approximately A$1. This was the 10th time the workers had gone out on strike.
Among those arrested was Munif Laredo, the president of SMID. The students and workers were marching from Tangerang to the local provincial parliament when they were surrounded by troops from the local military and police command. Scuffles broke out as the military tried to arrest the student leaders and the workers held on to the students, attempting to block the arrests.
The rally was broken into two by the military attack. One section of the workers marched on to the parliament, and the other marched to the Tangerang police station.
Further actions were later held in solidarity with the arrested students. According to a statement issued by the Centre for Indonesian Working Class Struggle (PPBI), later on January 10 SMID and PPBI workers briefed members from the Alliance of Independent Journalists on events. Also present were representatives of the Indonesian Prosperity Workers Union (SBSI), the Peoples Democratic Alliance, the student group PIJAR and other organisations.
On January 11, 15 SMID students and four workers from the Ganda Guna factory picketed at the offices of the government's official Human Rights Commission. They were later received by commissioner Amaral.
On January 11, the workers continued their strike despite a leaflet issued on January 10 by the regime's puppet union, the All Indonesia Workers Union (SPSI), stating that if workers wanted to remain safe they should return to work. A delegation met employers and were offered a small increase in food allowance. A number of workers' houses were raided on January 11 and 12 and the workers found there kicked and beaten by local military.
An assembly of workers on the evening of January 12 resolved to continue the strike. On news that the students were still detained, the workers resolved to rally demanding the release of the students. Following more actions, the students were released on January 15. The struggle in the factory continues.